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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

I attended my first holiday cookie exchange last week and the stakes were high considering our group was made up of Charlotte-area food and healthy living bloggers. I knew that I was going to bring my tried and true Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti but I also wanted to bring something a little more Christmas-esque. After a bit of research, I decided that these Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies would be perfect.

These cookies feature melted high-quality chocolate topped with crushed peppermints and a drizzle of white chocolate over a shortbread base. Although these cookies require multiple steps, they were fairly simple. I struggled most with the shortbread cookie dough. It stuck to my fingers as I tried to press it into the pan. The key to avoiding this was keeping my fingers wet with water. I was concerned that the shortbread wouldn’t cook properly but it turned out just right.

The cookies were a big hit at the party and the presentation was beautiful for the holidays. This recipe will definitely be a repeat for many holiday seasons to come. I thinke these cookies would be perfect in holiday gift bags too!

One Year Ago: Chili Lime Tilapia
Two Years Ago: Open-Faced Steak Sandwiches with Horseradish Sauce

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped red-and-white striped hard peppermint candies or candy canes
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with a long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both short sides of pan.
Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

Bake cookie base until light golden brown, slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on wire rack and immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, spread chocolate over top of cookie in a thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over.

Stir white chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from water and use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Grab the paper overhang and lift from pan. Transfer to work surface and using a large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

Yield: about 36 pieces

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It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away! I am in the midst of planning for this year’s meal and though it would be helpful to create a post with some of my favorite recipes. I hope this provides ideas and inspiration for your holiday feast.

Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green EggBrandon and my dad cooked the turkey on the Big Green Egg last year and it turned out wonderfully. Alton Brown’s method for preparing a turkey is perfect and roasting it on the Big Green Egg instead of in the oven added so much flavor.

Classic White Dressing – This dressing recipe has a short ingredient list but tastes great!

Sweet Potato Casserole - With alternating rows of crunch and marshmallow topping, this sweet potato recipe is sure to please everyone at your table. I’ve been making this one for several years now. It’s delicious and you just can’t beat the presentation.

Macaroni and Cheese – I first tried this recipe as part of my 68 Days of Gourmet project. It totally won me over and I’ve been singing its praises ever since. Try it, you won’t regret it!

Creamed LeeksWhile searching for nontraditional sides for last year’s meal, I came across this highly rated recipe for creamed leeks. This dish ended up being a surprise hit with the whole family – even those who had never tried leeks before.

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Shallots – This was another of the dishes that came out of my effort to mix up our sides. This recipe even had self-proclaimed brussels sprouts haters professing their love.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake – Pumpkin cheesecake is a fun addition to a dessert spread full of pies.

Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust – This tart is unbelievably easy to prepare and delicious. The gingersnap crust is what really sets this off, especially when topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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My dad made this dressing recipe from Cuisine at Home several years ago and it’s been a family staple ever since. There is nothing fancy about this dressing and the ingredients list is surprisingly short but it sure is good – especially topped with gravy!

My grandmother has always been the dressing maker for our family Thankgsivings but even she got on board with this recipe. If you’re looking for a classic, traditional dressing recipe, this one’s for you!

One Year Ago: Macaroni and Cheese and Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake (both great Thanksgiving recipes!)

Classic White Dressing
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home, December 2007)

Ingredients:

8 cups French bread, cubed and staled (cube and let sit until dried out)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups onion, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten until frothy
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place casserole dish on a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Soak bread in milk while you prepare other ingredients.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and celery and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft. Stir broth, onion mixture and herbs into bread and then add eggs, salt and pepper and gently stir until incorporated. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for one hour or until center is set.

Yield: 10 servings

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Big news! This is my 200th post and the second blogiversary of Bakin’ and Eggs is coming up very soon! :D

Let’s get to the food. I have another holiday recipe for you! I discovered this sweet potato casserole several years ago when Brandon requested a marshmallow-topped casserole and I wanted something a little different. This recipe was the perfect compromise and with the alternating layers of pecans and cornflakes and marshmallows, you can be sure that everyone at the table will be pleased. Also, I love the presentation of this casserole. It’s a pretty addition to a holiday spread.

I will be posting a Thanksgiving recipe round up tomorrow so stay tuned!

One Year Ago: Asian Marinated Tuna Steaks

Sweet Potato Casserole
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar (you can reduce this a little)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon of butter melted (divided)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions:

Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake for one hour, or until tender. Let cool and then peel. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, beat sweet potatoes, sugar and next 5 at medium speed until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.

Combine cornflakes cereal, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, pecans and brown sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle diagonally over casserole in rows (do not add the marshmallows yet!).

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle alternate rows with marshmallows; bake 10 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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Let’s get the important facts out of the way. This coffee cake has three sticks of butter in the cake and another half stick in the topping. If you find this shocking you may want to leave now! ;)

That said, this is the perfect coffee cake for the holidays. I made this last Thanksgiving for breakfast (you just have to go all out on Thanksgiving!) and my family loved it. I am a big fan of fresh cranberries in baked goods and this cake had just the right amount layered throughout. The streusel topping was a nice finish and the toasted pecans added so much.

This Cranberry Coffee Cake would be a lovely treat anytime during the holiday season – take it to work, bring it to a friend or serve it for houseguests. I guarantee it will be a hit…just dont’ tell anyone about the three and a half sticks of butter.

One Year Ago: Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg

Cranberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home)

Ingredients:

FOR THE STREUSEL
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest

FOR THE CAKE
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 1/4 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line pan with parchment paper so it hangs over edges to create handles and spray again with cooking spray.

FOR THE STREUSEL
Melt butter and stir in flour, pecans, dried cranberries, sugar and orange zest. Set streusel aside.

FOR THE CAKE
Pulse fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar and orange zest in food processor and set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs and egg yolk and set aside. Using hand mixer, cream butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl. Add flour mixture and egg mixture alternately to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and then top with remaining batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries and top cake with streusel.

Bake 55 to 70 minutes or until streusel is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 16 servings

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Dinner tonight was supposed to be broiled mahi, roasted asparagus and sweet potato parsnip puree. There was a midafternoon change of plans when Brandon informed me that he just did not feel like eating fish tonight. He is fighting a cold (that I may or may not have given him…oops) and was in the mood for something simple and comforting. I decided to do a spin on breakfast for dinner and made a healthier version of a traditional breakfast casserole.

This casserole features whole wheat English muffins, a few veggies, faux sausage, eggs and cheese. I got the idea for this dish from the Whole Foods website but winged it in the kitchen. The original recipe instructs you to let this sit overnight in the fridge but a one hour soak worked for us. I was able to quickly assemble this before yoga this evening and Brandon put it in the oven so that dinner was ready when I got home from class. Easy and delicious.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to cheese, sausage and bacon laden casseroles this holiday season I encourage you to try this recipe! I think you could further lighten it by using a mixture of eggs and egg whites and reducing the cheese. But we loved it just the way it was…a little cheese never hurt anyone!

One Year Ago: Buttermilk Biscuits and Jeweled Rice

English Muffin Egg Casserole
(Recipe inspired by Whole Foods Market)

Ingredients:

4 whole wheat English muffins, halved
2 meatless sausage patties (I used Morningstar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
5 eggs
1/3 cup skim milk
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Lots of salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Prepare an 11 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Line with English muffin halves and set aside.

Defrost sausages in microwave and crumble. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add sausage and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then stir in chopped spinach and dried basil. Season generously with salt and pepper and then spoon over English muffins.

While mixture is cooling on English muffins, whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over English muffins and top with cheese. Let rest at least one hour or up to overnight in the fridge.

Remove casserole from fridge while you are preheating oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until set and cheese is slightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings

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First, my apologies for my recent lack of posts. I was busy running the Marine Corps Marathon! Check out my race recap on my healthy living blog. Now that marathon training is over, you can expect more regular posts. I am looking forward to spending lots of time in the kitchen this winter.

Now, on to tasty treats! I don’t bake biscotti often but when I do it’s because I’m sending a package with baked goods. Biscotti holds up extremely well when shipped so I usually include it in my Operation Baking Gals packages and when I send treats to my grandmother. Biscotti is one of her favorites.

Biscotti can seem a little intimidating or time consuming because there are multiple steps and you have to bake it twice but it really is a simple process. If you’ve resisted trying to make biscotti at home, give it a try!

I made this Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti a few months ago and was extremely impressed. It’s definitely my favorite biscotti recipe that I’ve ever made. I shipped some of these to my grandmother but saved quite a few for myself. I baked them in the middle of the summer but I think the flavor combination would be perfect for the holidays.

One Year Ago: Feta Potato Salad

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats, originally from Bon Appetit, Dec. 1999)

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional – I just used a nonstick baking sheet).

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest on medium-high speed until well combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add in dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and then stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries with a spatula.

Divide the dough in half.  Working with one portion of dough, shape into a 12″ x 3″ rectangle on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough so that the rectangles are parallel on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 30 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on – you will need to bake the biscotti again) and let cool for 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer the rectangles to a work surface and remove the parchment paper from the pan. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut into half-inch slices on the diagonal. Place slices cut side up on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for another 12 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Biscotti keeps for about seven days and freezes well.

Yield: about 3 dozen

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Just a quick post to wish you all Happy St. Patrick’s Day and share our dinner with you. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day one day early because Brandon won’t be home for dinner tomorrow night. I made corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and soda bread. For some reason, I’ve always been a huge corned beef fan and asked for this dinner all the time when I was growing up!

Due to time constraints, I had to make the corned beef in the crockpot. I was leery that it would dry out but it actually turned out pretty well. I think I’ll still prefer boiling it in the future but this worked for a weeknight dinner. I cooked the vegetables and potatoes separately using some of the cooking water for the corned beef when I got home. The cabbage wouldn’t have fit in the crock pot and I knew it would be complete mush if I let it cook all day.

This was my first time making soda bread and we really enjoyed it. It was super simple to make and tasted great. A nice accompaniment to an Irish feast! I opted to use a very basic soda bread recipe – we weren’t interested in caraway seeds and golden raisins. I would describe it as a cross between a biscuit, scone and bread. I enjoyed a slice with butter and jam after dinner!

Corned beef and cabbage will always remain one of my all-time favorite dinners! We can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers.

One Year Ago: Simple Broiled Mahi

Corned Beef and Cabbage
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

1 package corned beef with seasoning packet
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
Enough water to cover
1 small head cabbage
Baby carrots (if desired)
Medium-sized red potatoes

Directions:

Place corned beef in a slow cooker with seasoning packet, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Add water until barely covered. Cook on low for about 6 hours, until fork tender.

Cut cabbage into quarters and place in a large stockpot with potatoes and carrots (if using). Add some of the water from the corned beef plus enough fresh water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until cabbage and potatoes are tender.

Basic Irish Soda Bread
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups of white)
1 teaspoon baking-soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1 teaspoon)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus a couple more tablespoons if necessary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly flour a baking sheet.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball and turn out onto lightly flour surfaced.  Knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch by 2-inch-high round. Place on prepared baking sheet and cut a 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 30-35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 42

Sometimes having a food blog has its perks. Like when I have a perfectly valid excuse to make chocolate cream pie on a weeknight. What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t give you guys some chocolate dessert ideas for Valentine’s Day? I am so glad that I selected this recipe to feature. It is simply just amazing. And this is coming from the girl who is firmly in the fruit dessert camp and not the biggest fan of super chocolatey desserts. The homemade pudding is definitely the “pièce de résistance” in this pie. And when paired with the chocolate wafer crust and freshly whipped cream – home run! Make this for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day – I promise you won’t be disappointed :)

And on to news on the fitness and nutrition front (so appropriate in the same post as chocolate cream pie). Last weekend was definitely an over-the-top indulgent weekend for me. Lots of dining out, dessert and Super Bowl snacking. But I also attended a hot vinyasa yoga class Friday night, taught BodyPump Saturday morning and ran five miles Sunday afternoon. About the running…I am so frustrated with it right now. It’s been almost two months since my last last race and I took the biggest running break that I’ve taken in years. I’m one week into my new training program and having terrible pain in my left leg in the achilles tendon/lower calf area. It feels like there’s a big knot there and it hurts when I run and stays sore for days after I run. I’m really bummed and hoping if I keep icing it and try to rest it that it will get better. Fingers crossed.

Stocked up on lots of healthy foods, fruits and vegetables at the grocery for the week. Putting last weekend behind me and moving on! It’s all I can do. We all have to splurge sometimes!

Chocolate Cream Pie
(Recipe source Gourmet, February 2004)
Printable Recipe: Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 26 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers or Oreos with cream scraped off)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

FOR THE FILLING
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE TOPPING
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together crumbs, butter and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

FOR THE FILLING
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks until combined well.  Add milk in a slow stream, whisking and bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute (filling will be thick).

Pour filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least six hours or overnight.

FOR THE TOPPING
Just before serving, beat cream and sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Spoon on top of pie and serve with a dusting of cocoa powder or with fresh berries.

Yield: 8-10 servings

*Note: give yourself plenty of time to make this pie. You’ll want to make it the day before Valentine’s since you have to build in chilling time.

Other Valentine’s Day Treats
Lady Strawberry Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Jamwich Cookies

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 33

Greetings from Mema’s house! We arrived last night around 9 and were starving. Lucky for us, Mema had made cabbage rolls “deconstructed,” rice and green beans. So good and comforting – totally hit the spot. Finished dinner off with some ooey gooey bars (which I have had TOO many of while we’ve been here) and then fell into bed stuffed and exhausted.

This morning we enjoyed some of this Pear Cranberry Cake for breakfast along with a  fresh orange/grapefruit mixture. After breakfast, I headed upstairs to do a Dave Farmar power yoga podcast. I set up a space heater and felt right at home with my yoga practice! After yoga I was ready for lunch. I whipped up a potato/veggie/turkey kilebasa soup that Mema wanted to try while she made some pimento cheese. The soup was perfect for the rainy, cool day and Mema’s pimento cheese is always a hit! Of course I had to finish it off with another ooey gooey bar.

After lunch I decided it would be a good idea to demonstrate some yoga poses to Mema and practice tripod headstands. Yeah, maybe not the best idea after my big lunch. :oops:

After a lazy afternoon of getting Mema’s Christmas Nook set up and playing Scrabble, Brandon and I picked up a Mellow Mushroom pizza for dinner. Mellow Mushroom was our favorite pizza in college but they don’t have one in Charlotte. It was a yummy treat. They have the BEST dough!

Mema had a piece of the Pear Cranberry Cake for dessert. Overall I was pleased with it but I definitely thought it could have used more cranberries. The cranberry to pear ratio didn’t seem quite right. Also, the original recipe calls for a glaze but since we were traveling with the cake, I left it off. Good thing I did because Mema says she much prefers cakes without glazes. I thought the pears were a nice change of pace from your traditional apple cake.

We’re heading home tomorrow. I’m hoping to get a nice run in and attack some leftovers from the weekend before we leave!

Pear Cranberry Cake
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 2009)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Bosc pears (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup cranberries (thawed if frozen)

FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 (3-inch-long) cinnamon sticks

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a bundt or angel food cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium high speed until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and mix in pears and cranberries. Once combined, slowly mix in flour mixture until all flour has been incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Cool in pan 30 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon sticks and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Cool glaze 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks, then pour glaze over cake, letting some drip down sides.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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